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Gulf Oil Spill Dispersants Associated with Health Symptoms in Cleanup Workers

man holding child watching efforts to clean up oil spill

September 19, 2017 - Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms. These workers were more likely to experience certain symptoms—cough, wheeze, tightness in the chest, and burning in the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs— than those workers not exposed to dispersants. The NIEHS study is the first to examine dispersant-related health symptoms in humans.

Two chemical dispersants, Corexit EC9500A or Corexit EC9527A, were used in some areas where oil was present. This spill was the first time such oil dispersants were used at this scale, making it important to examine possible health effects. The health effects seen in workers were not necessarily found in the community at large.

Tags: oil spill


McGowan CJ, Kwok RK, Engel LS, Stenzel MR, Stewart PA, Sandler DP. 2017. Respiratory, dermal, and eye irritation symptoms associated with Corexit EC9527A/EC9500A following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: findings from the GuLF STUDY. Environmental Health Perspect; doi: 10.1289/EHP1677 [Full text]

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